The European Parliament has reportedly approved new food labeling rules aimed at helping consumers make “better informed, healthier choices.” As outlined in a July 6, 2011, press release, the new regulations will require labels “to spell out a food’s energy content as well as fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, protein and salt levels, in a way that makes them easy for consumers to read.” To this end, such nutritional information must be presented “in a legible tabular form on the packaging, together and in the same field of vision,” and “expressed per 100g or per 100ml,” with the option of expressing values per portion.

Slated to take effect three to five years after publication in the EU Official Journal, the new rules also (i) tighten allergen labeling requirements for both pre-packaged products and non-packaged foods sold in restaurants or canteens; (ii) extend existing country-of-origin labeling laws to fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry; and (iii) dictate that consumers cannot be “misled by the appearance, description or pictorial presentation of food packaging.” In addition, meat and fish consisting of combined meat parts or fish parts must now be labeled “formed meat” or “formed fish,” accordingly.

“The new rules are supposed to provide more and better information to consumers so they can make informed choices when buying. But [it] is more than that: the food industry should benefit too. There should be more legal certainty, less bureaucracy and better legislation in general,” Member of European Parliament Renate Sommer (EPP, DE) said.